Police and law enforcement in Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas can arrest drivers for a DUI any day of the year. However, some days have much higher rates of DUI arrests than others. One of the peak times for drunk driving accidents and arrests is New Year's Eve. After ringing in the new year between December 31st and January 1st, many drivers end up driving home after having one drink too many.
New Year's Eve DUI Statistics
According to the Santa Rosa Area CHP, officers made 22 DUI arrests over the New Year's weekend last year. This is a significant increase over the 12 to 15 DUI arrests made on an average weekend by the Santa Rosa CHP.
Over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people are killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents during the Christmas through New Year's holiday period. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 781 people died in drunk driving accidents in December 2016.
Maximum Enforcement Period
The time surrounding New Years has increased DUI arrests, in part, because it is a “maximum enforcement period” (MEP) for law enforcement. During MEPs, law enforcement agencies may have all available officers on patrol watching for signs of impaired driving. Increased patrols are often out on holiday weekends, including Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Eve.
There may be a chance that local law enforcement could set up DUI checkpoints around New Year's Eve. Last year, Santa Rosa Police conducted a DUI checkpoint on December 29th in the area of College Ave and Mendocino Ave. DUI checkpoints involve stopping random vehicles, checking a driver's license and registration while looking for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Police generally announce these checkpoints in advance for a deterrent effect, so keep an eye out for announcements from the Santa Rosa PD.
Alternatives to Driving in Santa Rosa
One of the problems with trying to avoid a DUI after a night out is the limited alternatives to driving in Santa Rosa. The SMART transit option would be a nice alternative to driving by using rail to connect you to events without having to drive. Unfortunately, SMART has not planned any extended service for New Year's Eve and is operating on the regular weekend/holiday schedule.
Rideshares, designated drivers, and taxis may be the best options for celebrating the New Year without having to get behind the wheel. It is also important to be patient when waiting for a taxi, Uber, or Lyft after midnight. Just after midnight is a peak time for rideshares and cabs. A long wait for a ride home is still faster than dealing with a traffic stop, arrest, and calling someone for a ride home from jail.
For drivers who plan to drive home sober but end up having too much to drink, AAA Tipsy Tow program offers a free ride home and vehicle tow of up to 10 miles for any driver. Beyond 10 miles, individuals are charged a standard towing rate. This option is available to any driver, not just AAA members.
Drowsy Driving and Cold Medicine
Other factors that could impair a driver's abilities could include drowsy driving or the combined effects of alcohol and over-the-counter drugs. A cold or flu may be making its way around during the winter, with people turning to cold medicine. Some cold medicines make users feel tired and when combined with alcohol can amplify the effects of drinking.
A long day of celebrating, long drives to visit family, and the sky getting darker earlier can make driving more challenging. Combining drowsy driving with alcohol can increase the chances of getting pulled over by the CHP or police department. Even if the driver's BAC is not over the legal limit, the police can still arrest a driver for impaired driving, leaving the driver facing an uphill battle to clear his or her name.
Santa Rosa DUI Defense Lawyers
If you are pulled over after a New Year's Eve party, contact DUI defense lawyers who will fight for you. Call the DUI defense team at Wilber Law Offices as soon as possible to make sure you maintain all possible avenues of defense. Wilber Law Offices handles cases in Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa, and other surrounding Northern California counties. Contact Wilber Law Offices today for a FREE consultation at (707) 955-5298.